DISCUSSIONS between private sector employers and workers’ unions on reintroducing the cost of living allowance (CoLA) commenced on Monday under the auspices of Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou.
CoLA was frozen in 2011 in the public sector and in 2012 in the private sector.
Employers say that when CoLA is reintroduced it must also reflect times of negative inflation which would lead to wage cuts. This is opposed by the unions which argue salaries have already been slashed due to the economic crisis.
Discussion is also focusing on whether the CoLA should be calculated on 50 per cent of the inflation rate or 100 per cent.
At the first meeting at the labour ministry all sides submitted their proposals which will be discussed until common ground is achieved. Representatives of the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV), the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) and the general secretaries of the SEK, PEO and Deok unions all attended the meeting, which was chaired by Emilianidou,
Emilianidou said that she would hear the positions of both sides in order to reach a solution that would benefit everyone.
“Everyone expressed their will to seek a solution that will benefit both workers and businesses, and beyond that of the country as labour peace must be maintained as it was preserved all these years through the goodwill and responsibility all sides exhibited,” Emilianidou said following the meeting.
She added that there were opposing opinions at the table but that slashing CoLA altogether was not discussed.
“We have not discussed at any stage whether the CoLA should cease to exist. What we are discussing at the moment is how the CoLA will be calculated in the private sector,” Emilianidou said.
Separate meetings with all stakeholders would follow, she said.
The goal, Emilianidou said, was for all sides to reach a consensus on time for the CoLA to be applied in January.
The representatives of the unions and of the employers’ organisations expressed satisfaction over the commencement of the dialogue and said that despite differences of opinion, they would contribute to a positive outcome.